Key target on stroke treatment missed

By Ian Dipple Friday 07 February 2014 Updated: 07/02 09:15

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A KEY stroke target has been missed for the first time since the service was centralised into Worcester.

In total 80 per cent of patients are supposed to spend at least 90 per cent of their time on a dedicated stroke ward but just 75 per cent did so during December.

Part of the problem is staff were dealing with between six to seven stroke patients a day compared to the average of three to four, while difficulties getting people into community beds for rehabilitation were also behind the failure.

Stroke services at the Alexandra Hospital were moved to Worcester in July last year as part of efforts to improve the service by centralising skills and expertise on one site and up until last month resulted in a spike in performance.

The Standard reported in December warnings by Trust staff they were experiencing difficulties getting patients out of the stroke ward and into community hospitals or other locations which was impacting on the service, with one man waiting fours weeks to be discharged.

The issue was also flagged up in July 2012 when the idea of centralising stroke services was first mooted.

As a result commissioners are looking at how to boost the number of rehabilitation - or step down - beds available, with a particular focus in the Redditch and Bromsgrove area where there appears to be a shortage.

Stewart Messer, the Trust’s chief operating officer, said while it was disappointing one target had been missed others around patients being directly admitted to a stroke ward and getting immediate thrombolysis - a life-saving clot busting treatment - had been hit.

“In Worcestershire we should be immensely proud of that piece of work brought forward by the PCT and continued by the CCGs, because there is proven evidence centralising your stroke expertise on one site gets the best outcomes and we’re seeing some of our stroke patients’ length of stay of less than six days now,” he said.

“It’s an area of concern around that target and it’s a warning sign to us all. There’s an acknowledgement from commissioners that building on the success of that [centralisation] we would not want to see it fail.

“It’s important over the next six months to really understand the gap we now face in terms of some of that step down capacity.”

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